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Congress Alert

Expanding Conscription to Women to Become Law this Year?


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There has been much movement in the United States government over the last few years toward women being required, like men, to register with Selective Service and thus join the pool of individuals who could be drafted into the military. Will this be the year that women will start having the threat of being conscripted hang over their heads?

An ominous indication that the expansion of the reach of a potential draft to women may become reality this year was reported by Burgess Everett and Connor O’Brien at Politico on Monday. They write that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) has drafted a “sweeping rewrite of the military draft laws aimed at requiring women to register for the Selective Service System” that “could be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, a defense policy bill that’s one of the few pieces of legislation considered a ‘must-pass’ by Congress.” Everett and O’Brien further write that the new conscription language is expected to be considered during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.

In 2016, the US Senate included expanding the draft to women in the NDAA, though it was removed in conference committee when the US House of Representatives-passed version of the bill lacked such a provision.  The next year, the US military came out in support of the idea. In 2019 a federal judge ruled drafting only men is unconstitutional. Then, in 2020, a congressionally-mandated commission supported subjecting women, in addition to men, to a draft.

And it looks like an expansion of the draft to women will be supported by President Joe Biden given his advocacy for the change in answer to a question from the Military Officers Association of America during the 2020 presidential campaign. Then, Biden declared:
The United States does not need a larger military, and we don’t need a draft at this time. The all-volunteer force has been a source of strength for decades. I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts.

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